Cook Islands Language Week 2021: “It’s the people who pull me back to where I’m from…”

Dr Joe Williams and Dr Kiki Maoate at the Cook Islands Health Conference, 2010

Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) President, Dr Tearikivao ‘Kiki’ Maoate (ONZM,FRACS) recently received the Tu Rangatira Health Award which honors individuals who have significantly contributed to improving the quality of life of Cook Islanders in the region.

Dr Maoate has served the Pacific community in New Zealand and the Pacific region through his medical career for over 35-years.  He says being recognised by his community is always humbling.

“The award extends beyond just me. It extends across the health sector and the PMA family group. Of course, my family is an important part of my journey. I don’t expect them to make a big fuss about it but, I know they are always proud.”

The Tu Rangatira Health Award was sponsored by the Mt Wellington Integrated Healthcare Centre, established by the late Dr Joe Williams, who Dr Maoate acknowledges as a big influence on his career.

“I was looking at the award today, and being reminded of Papa Joe, a great uncle. Having the award sponsored by Mount Wellington Integrated Healthcare, makes it feel like he’s right here. He was a big influence on my journey especially the past 15-years. So, it was a good moment, a timely moment, and a reminder of his leadership and influence on us.”

With Cook Islands language week in mind, Dr Maoate says the award reflects this year’s theme: ‘Ātuitui’ia au ki te Oneone o tōku ‘Ui Tupuna (connect me to the soil of my ancestors).

“My career has always been about connecting with our people and sharing what I have learned. It’s the people who pull me back to where I’m from, and that’s the connection to the past generations and the soil of our homeland.”


Date: Thursday 05 August 2021